Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Lakers--Likely Victims of Age and Injury

Hey Laker fans!

Get your heads out of the sand. Take off those rose-colored glasses. Get rid of those blinders. Face reality. That vision you have of the Lakers  methodically mowing down rivals on the way to an NBA championship may turn out to be a fairy tale. Things may not happen the way you expect.

Since the Lakers signed center Dwight Howard and point guard Steve Nash in the off  season, all their fans, bursting with glee, can think of is what damage that fabulous starting five can do. These rapturous fans imagine Howard, the league's secretary of defense, flanked by first-rate forwards Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace, in front of a dream backcourt--Nash and shooting guard Kobe Bryant. Who can stop them? Fans get giddy envisioning this offense rampaging through the league.
But wait a minute.

There's another side, a dark side, which Laker  fans either ignore or place in the unlikely category. Age and injuries can ruin this team. So can its weak bench. These are real dangers. Lakers fans, though, act like they don't exist or are remote possibilities.

But it's quite possible that Howard, coming off back surgery, may miss a lot of games or be ineffective in some when back pains flare up. His back simply may not hold up for a full season. It's very likely that, come playoff time, he'll be far less than 100%. And what about Nash, who's nearing 90?. They need him to play like a 25-year-old, for about 35 minutes a game. That may be too much. At his age he needs more rest and is more prone to nagging injuries. The Lakers, though, don't have the luxury of resting him.

What about Kobe? He's no spring chicken. Right now he's out of the lineup, nursing a banged-up foot. He has more mileage than just about any player in the league. He's definitely slowing down and, like Nash, is  more vulnerable to injury.

But age and injury issues are less scary when you have a strong bench to rely on. That's another problem. Last year, the Lakers had arguably the worst bench in the league. They've upgraded, adding Jodie Meeks and Antewan Jameson, but it's still not a great bench..So far it's been mediocre. The lousy bench is a big reason the Lakers are winless in seven pre-season games. If any of the stars is out for a while that offense isn't nearly as potent.

Last night the Lakers lost 97-91 to the Clippers. Neither Howard, who's still not in game shape, nor Bryant  played. Without the stars, the Lakers just weren't good enough. During the season, Howard, Nash and Bryant are bound to be out here and there with injuries, derailing the offense.

Lakers fans, though, don't want to hear that unsettling scenario, which is just as likely to become a reality. They prefer the glorious vision of the starters, that Fab Five, all healthy, playing 35-40 minutes a game.

Dream on, Laker fans, dream on.